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New Frontiers in Health Communication: Sesquicentennial 1836-1986 home page Introduction page National Library of Medicine: New Frontiers in Health Communication page National Library of Medicine: The World's Link to Health page Medline: Medical Information When Minutes Count page The Toxicology Information Program: Making the World Safer page Research and Development: New Frontiers in Information Science page Medical Education in the Year 2000 page Extramural Programs: Investing in Knowledge page Future: Information Systems Pace Breakthroughs in Medicine page Regional Medical Library Network: Building a Nationwide Base page
Instruction in Surgery. Five physicians and their colleagues in the surgical amphitheatre of the Massachusetts General Hospital watch as the anesthetist administers ether to a patient who is about to have surgery.

Instruction in Surgery. Five physicians and their colleagues in the surgical amphitheatre of the Massachusetts General Hospital watch as the anesthetist administers ether to a patient who is about to have surgery. This illustration appeared in an 1889 issue of Harper's Weekly.


The National Library of Medicine was originally established 150 years ago, in 1836, as the Library of the Army Surgeon General's Office. Perhaps the key event in the library's history occurred in 1865, when Dr. John Shaw Billings became director. For the next 30 years he worked tirelessly to expand the library's holdings and open it as a source of biomedical information for all physicians.

Computer model of a DNA molecule. Courtesy of the Division of Computer Research and Technology, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.


Computer model of a DNA molecule.
Courtesy of the Division of Computer Research and Technology
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland.


Half length full face view of Donald A. B. Lindberg, Director, National Library of Medicine standing in the Incunabula Room in the History of the Medicine Division holding a book.

The wealth of new medical information issuing from research centers around the world cannot be used to improve our health and cure disease unless it is made available rapidly to the entire health science community. The astonishingly varied services of the National Library of Medicine are indispensible in this task.

Modern computer and communications technologies today routinely assist in providing vitally needed medical information. Systems now being developed by the Library will expand such information dissemination capabilities dramatically in the years to come.

I believe that the National Library of Medicine -- with its past accomplishments, present services, and future promise -- is an institution in which we all can take pride.

Donald A. B. Lindberg, M.D.
Director
National Library of Medicine